Friday, August 05, 2005


This is from today's New York Times:
The Red Sox are baseball's biggest roadside attraction. On its tour through 12 cities, the self-styled posse of scruffy idiots is leading Major League Baseball in road attendance, a category the Yankees have won the last three seasons.
The Red Sox have always been a good draw on the road, but I guess winning the World Series for the first time in 86 years doesn't hurt things. And much like the Yankees, the Sox have been pretty successful during the last seven or eight years, so that probably helps too. (Although I realize both teams have been good road draws for a lot longer than that.) Not surprisingly, fans seem to be a bit more prevalent at out-of-town games when a team's playing well.

Since the World Series, it seems like there are a lot more Red Sox fans than there was after the 2003 ALCS. And it's not a stretch to assume that a lot of those fans were along for the ride last season. I don't begrudge these people, but I do cringe a bit whenever I hear some perky just-out-of-college type go on about how much she loves the Sox and isn't it amazing that they finally won a World Series? My usual response is something along the lines of: "Finally won the World Series? You've been a fan for fifteen minutes -- you made out a lot better than fans of any of the other 32 teams."

Of course, if I'm to be totally honest, I've only been a fan since sixth grade, when we just happened to be in NYC during the start of the 1986 World Series. We were walking around Manhattan, stumbled into Saks and just happened to bump into Davey Johnson on the afternoon of game 1. I remember my uncle, who was a NYC policeman and Mets fan, told Johnson to start Mookie Wilson over Lenny Dykstra. My only other memory from that encounter was that Johnson pulled out a big wad of cash to pay for a couple of suits.

If I'm going to be even more honest, I was also a Braves fan, since at that time the MLB Extra Innings package only included two networks: TBS and WGN. And after 1986, I followed the Braves more closely than the Sox. That remained the case until I moved to Boston in 1995. After that, I was a full-time Red Sox fan -- which is pretty spectacular when you consider that guys like Jose Canseco and John Valentin were starters, and Dan Duquette was grimacing his way to some questionable GM decisions (although he did sign Manny -- which immediately summons visions of Dr. Phil saying, "So, how's that working out for ya?" in that insufferable Texas twang). Oh, good times.

Still no sign of Hines Ward. And in fact, the two Pittsburgh papers haven't written about his absence since Tuesday. I don't know if that's good or bad. On the upside, at least Ward can't get hurt sitting at home. I can only imagine how the media would be skewering Plax if he had signed a 5-year, $25 million contract to stay in Pittsburgh and then hurt his knee and his hip within a week -- and especially if Hines was still holding out for a new deal. It's not often the case that a player can escape media scrutiny by going to New York City.